Just so that you can take some time to emotionally prepare, we are nearing the end of this particular journey of Isabella’s. *
After another harrowing trip up the forested mountain, during which Ito, “whose horse could not keep up with the others, was lost, or rather lost himself,” Isabella came upon a remote Japanese house. Currently, it is occupied by the a few Ainu who have seen better days.
“The house and its inmates were a study. Everything was broken and decayed, and the dirt was appalling. A very ugly Ainu woman, hardly human in her ugliness, was spitting bark fiber.”
A “grand old man” is sitting by a cooking pot. “Old, and sitting among ruins, he represented the fate of a race which, living, has no history, and perishing, leaves no monument.”
They stop for an extra day in Oshamambe** for Isabella to rest her spine. It’s easy to forget that she suffers from a chronic illness but she does, on occasion, mention that she’ll take an extra day here and there to recover from all of the horseback riding.
Oshamambe is not the best choice for an extra long rest because it “looks dismal even in the sunshine, decayed and dissipated, with many people pounding about in it doing nothing, with the dazed look which over-indulgence in sake gives to the eyes. In her yadoya during the night, one of the screens falls down and she sees “six Japanese sleeping in a row, each head on a wooden pillow.”
The view will improve soon, by the way, as they turn back to the coast.
* There is *a lot* more to talk about and other journeys besides but we will not be in Japan anymore. It is a hard place to leave.
** This town's mascot, Manbe-kun, is very controversial. And has an iris on his head that wilts when he gets tired in addition to crab-claws for hands and pollution sensors for nipples.